Don had long maintained that he would not allow the name “Parker” to be used in a film unless the filmmakers agreed to produce a series instead of another one-off. The producers of the recent Jason Statham film, Parker, did just that and thus were allowed to use the name. But they weren’t the first production team working in a visual medium to be allowed to use “Parker.” That honor went to graphic artist Darwyn Cooke and editor Scott Dunbier.
Since bursting on the scene with Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter in 2009, the series of Parker graphic novel adaptations by Darwyn Cooke has taken the graphic novel universe by storm, generating incredible enthusiasm and praise from new fans and weathered old-timers alike, as well as garnering five Eisner Awards. In 2010 it was “Best Adaptation from Another Work” for The Hunter. In 2011, The Outfit earned Darwyn “Best Artist.” In 2012, “Best Graphic Album: Reprint” went to the Martini Edition, which included a short adaptation from The Seventh, which won for “Best Short Story.” And in 2013, another “Best Adaptation from Another Work” was awarded for The Score.
The latest adaptation by Darwyn and Scott is slated to be released in December and, from the looks of it, Slayground is going to be an amazing addition to the lineup. (You can pre-order a copy here.) The story is set entirely within the confines of an amusement park, closed for the off-season, giving Darwyn a chance to really flex his artistic muscle. With Don’s meticulous descriptions and attention to detail, Darwyn is able to bring a dark and shuttered late-60s amusement park to life. There’s even a fold-out map of the park, one of those touches that one only sees in fantasy literature and graphic novels. And, as usual, the story is set in the period and location of Don’s original creation — Buffalo, New York in 1969.
Originally thought to be Darwyn’s last foray into the amoral world of Parker and company, in an interview last year, Darwyn told Trent Reynolds and Nick Jones (of the excellent Violent World of Parker website), and Scott Dunbier recently confirmed via email, that Darwyn is probably going to do at least one more, which may turn out to be the best of the entire series. You see, he has his sights set on Butcher’s Moon, the longest of the Parker novels, probably the bloodiest, and with the biggest cast of Parker associates, “heavies” as they are described, of any of the books. Darwyn also told Trent and Nick that he was planning on adapting The Handle, which would be a fantastic penultimate adventure, probably explaining why Darwyn chose to switch up the chronology. It’s an excellent interview and you really should go check it out.
If I had any influence (which I don’t), I would plead for an adaptation of Plunder Squad as the perfect lead-in to the finale but Darwyn is at the top of his game and in much demand throughout the industry. We’ve been lucky that his inspiration has led to all the wonderful adaptations we have now. Check out the gallery below for a sneak peek at the forthcoming Slayground graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke, edited by Scott Dunbier.